Why Tribeca Film Institute Is Doing Screenings In Prison – VIDEO

NEW YORK — Fast Company:  The poster on the wall was a kind of marquee. “TRIBECA FILM INSTITUTE COMMUNITY SCREENING SERIES — ‘3½ MINUTES, 10 BULLETS’ — FEBRUARY 17TH, 2016.” But the venue was very different from the usual fare of Tribeca, best known for its glamorous annual film festival in New York, founded by Robert De Niro. Tonight’s screening was in Otisville Correctional Facility, a medium-security state prison about 60 miles northwest of Manhattan. The audience was a roomful of prisoners in muted green and maroon clothing, several of whom were serving out life sentences.

Nearby stood Virgilio “Vee” Bravo, Tribeca’s VP of Education. He watched from the rear of the room as three inmates he had been working with for months stood in front of the men, introducing the film they were about to watch. “Let’s thank Virgilio Bravo and Tribeca,” said Charles “Chas” Ransom, whom Bravo had chosen as a “facilitator” through a competitive process. The men broke into applause. “Big Vee!” called one, and Bravo laughed and playfully performed a bodybuilder pose. Later, another of the facilitators, Moses El-Sun White, stood before the audience and said, “I don’t see a room full of bad dudes. I see a room full of good dudes who made bad decisions.”

The evening’s screening—Tribeca does two every month—would also serve as an on-ramp to other educational initiatives in the prison; several men in the audience had come to early screenings where they learned about a higher education program in the prison offered through John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Before the screening began, Alejo Rodriguez, one of the three facilitators for the evening, asked how many of the men had been to prior screenings. Roughly two thirds raised their hands; the rest were new. Rodriguez welcomed them and told them they were in for a powerful film—about the 2012 shooting death of unarmed black teen Jordan Davis by a white vigilante—and discussion. “Those who know, know. Those who don’t know, ride with us, man,” he said.

Read more of this story from Fast Company by David Zax

Video courtesy of Tribeca Film Institute

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